June 20, 2013
Airbus is unimpressed—at least officially—by Boeing’s soon-to-be launched 777X, with Chief Operating Officer-Customers John Leahy dismissing the proposed widebody as a “very heavy paper aircraft.”
Leahy, speaking at the Paris air show, argued that Boeing “will discover that a derivative will not compete with a clean-sheet design (the A350),” and that he saw no need for Airbus to react with a counterproposal to the 777-9X.
With a nominal capacity of 400 seats in a three-class arrangement, the planned Boeing twinjet is likely to have space for 30-50 additional seats compared to the Airbus A350-1000, depending on the configuration. Airbus’s next-largest aircraft is the far-bigger A380. Boeing plans to formally launch the 777X before the end of the year.
“We don’t respond to paper aircraft,” Leahy said, adding, “Nobody asked them to add more seats.” He went has far as alleging that “the godfather of the aircraft leasing business”—Air Lease Corp.’s Chairman and CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy—told him that Boeing simply was re-engine the existing 777-300ER.
Udvar-Hazy earlier this week said the 777X needs further “design refinements” before he would consider ordering the aircraft.
Leahy’s 777X comments were part of a broader move to claim market leadership in the widebody market. In an Airbus presentation he suggested that the European airframer has outsold Boeing in the long-haul market by a wide margin over the past five years. According to Airbus’s figures, Boeing received a combined 587 orders for the 767, 787, 777 and 747-8 passenger series, while Airbus reached 820 in the same timeframe. The A350 generated 362 firm orders, compared to 156 for the 787 (including the 787-10). Of course, according to the same data, Boeing can claim 355 orders for the current versions of the 777 alone, almost as many as Airbus received for the new A350. In the overall 787/A350 comparison, Boeing still leads with 890 orders to 682 for the A350.
Airbus reached orders and commitments for 466 additional aircraft of all series at the Paris air show. Included are commitments for 25 A350s from Air France, 30 for Singapore Airlines, 10 for United Airlines and four for SriLankan Airlines. Airbus also managed to sell a combination of 135 A320s and A320NEOs to EasyJet and a mix of 100 current and reengined narrowbodies to Lufthansa.
Boeing, meanwhile, says the air show yielded 422 orders and commitments, including a firm order for 175 aircraft by major 737 operator Ryanair. Other firm orders included those for 30 737 MAX models by CIT Aerospace, 30 787-10s by Singapore Airlines, 12 787-10s by British Airways, five 737-900ERs by Oman Air, three 737-8s by the Czech Republic’s Travel Service Airlines, two 777-300ERs by Qatar Airways and another 40 narrowbody orders from undisclosed customers.
In the NEO/MAX market, Airbus now has reached 2,408 orders while Boeing is at 1,513 for the MAX, which was launched later. Airbus argues that its customer base is much broader, with 43 different clients compared to 22 for Boeing.